Ex-teacher chalks up the contracts, builds Nkandla

Thandeka Nene. (Jackie Clausen)

Thandeka Nene. (Jackie Clausen)

She loves luxury cars and beautiful mansions registered in the name of her company Bonelena.

Nene is said to frequent the swish Beverly Hills hotel in Umhlanga, where she mingles with other Durban business personalities.

A former teacher, she established Bonelena Construction Enterprises and Projects in 2005. She was thrust into the spotlight when it emerged that she was the major contractor in the security upgrade at President Jacob Zuma's compound in Nkandla.

From the contract she signed in 2010 she stood to clinch R91-million.

The company has completed 17 projects, mainly tenders from the department of public works – most of them schools – ranging in value from R3-million to R35-million.

The married mother of three entered the construction business with her sister, Cindy Mahlalempini, when they formed a partnership, Ntshantsha Construction, in October 2004. The next year they formed their own companies – Nene started Bonelena and Mahlalempini formed Sthembokuhle Construction.

In various documents to the department of public works she says that Bonelena is owned and directed by "a black professional woman".
She boasts that she obtained excellence awards certificates from the department of education in 2006 and a Master Builders Association five-star health and safety award in 2009.

Bonelena's website lists Nkandla as one of its projects, saying that "through the reputation that we have gained in the industry Bonelela was appointed to build the ... presidential home".

Nene's property portfolio includes two mansions in Umhlanga Rocks, worth R2.6-million and R2.9-million. A third property worth about R600 000 is located in Palm Estates, also in KwaZulu-Natal.

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